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post #21 of 26 Old 04-20-2012, 10:21 PM
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I think we need a new thread advising those contemplating the purchase of a saddle to check with us. There are so many saddles that are pretty but junk and so many knockoffs. I doubt very much that this particular saddle was made in the US.
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post #22 of 26 Old 04-20-2012, 10:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Saddlebag View Post
I think we need a new thread advising those contemplating the purchase of a saddle to check with us. There are so many saddles that are pretty but junk and so many knockoffs. I doubt very much that this particular saddle was made in the US.
The Riders Choice saddles are supposed to be made in Bryant, AL. When I was planning on buying a new saddle I of course went online and read reviews. The reviews at the time were mixed on the Riders Choice. So I called Riders Choice to try and feel them out, they were very knowlegable and said they built each one there. I felt comfortable enough after talking with them that I bought one. Now, two years later I'm still glad I did. Is it a $2000 Billy Cook saddle? No. However I think I payed around $500 and I'm very pleased with it...
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post #23 of 26 Old 04-21-2012, 11:22 PM
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I've purchased 4 Rider's Choice saddles and would give them mixed reviews.

The first one was a barrel saddle. (One of the GW Crate, higher end models). The quality was GREAT, no complaints, but it didn't fit my horse. Because I had already rode in it and oiled it before I realized it was a bad fit, I sold it rather than sent it back.

The second one was one of their cheaper Wades. In the $500 range. I wasn't happy with the quality of the saddle but it fit my horse great. So I talked to the owner and returned that saddle for one of their GW Crate Wades, which has the same tree but is a higher quality saddle. I LOVE, love love that saddle! It's still my favorite and never gives my Mustang a white hair, even on 5-6 hour trail rides all summer long.

I was so happy with it in fact that I ordered a 4th saddle from them. It was supposed to be just like the GW Crate Wade that I love except for a few cosmetic changes. I figured if it was to be my dream saddle I might as well order it with a few customizations to my liking. Well, saddle #4 I was VERY disappointed in. It was one of the GW Crate models. It cost nearly $1000. The workmanship was crappy. The stitching went off the edge of the leather on the skirts, the seat had wrinkles in it (it is a slick seated saddle), it had a rawhide cantle and horn and the stitching was not even on the rawhide. One of the breastcollar D's pulled out after a little use, and I don't know what they did with the tree or the rigging but it did not even FIT the same as the older one. And they supposedly had the same tree. It seemed even wider than my first one, too wide.

Like a dummy I thought I was being too picky and I tried to love that saddle and rode in it about a year. After all, it was supposed to be the same as my brown one which was awesome. But between the wider fit and the blemishes I just couldn't make myself like it.

I finally traded it to a lady that buys and sells tack for another saddle. I ended up with a Saddle King Ol' Timer. It has nearly the same features as the GW Crate Wade but the workmanship is much better and it fits my horses better too. I never thought I would own a Saddle King (I thought they were below me) but I just love the Ol' Timer!

So yeah, I don't know what it is with Rider's Choice. They can turn out high quality saddles and they can turn out junk. And I don't know how figure out which one you will get. It's not the money, because the almost $1000 saddle was crappy and not nearly as well made as the first GW Crate Wade I bought from them. Which was lovely! My good saddle was made in 2009 and the cruddy one I think was a 2010.

I actually did try one of the newer Billy Cooks and the quality was nice (about like my favorite GW Crate Wade) but I could tell right off it would not fit my horses so I returned it.

I am afraid to try a Corriente just based off my poor luck with fit (I would prefer to be able to try out a saddle in person), but I have seen enough of them to feel like at least I would know I was getting a quality saddle for the money.

I think buying a good saddle is harder than buying a good horse!

Question for the OP, which saddle did you order?

I am aware that in the eBay ads, they just have general stock photos of the style of saddle you are getting, but not photos of the ACTUAL saddle you are getting. That makes it really hard to know what you are getting. Some of the saddles in their ads look PERFECT and some you can tell are slightly a-symetrical. So it's hard to know if you are getting a perfect saddle or one with lesser workmanship.

Anyway, after the last saddle I am done with Rider's Choice. I really wanted to be a good customer, but they kind of burned me. I also emailed Rider's Choice after I decided to sell the last saddle, just asking for reassurance that if I ordered another he would pick me out a good one (and explained the flaws on the last one), and the response I got didn't make me feel reassured. It was just kind of like "yes, we can make you a saddle." But nothing about making sure it was well made.

I mean, I really LOVE that one saddle I got from them. All I wanted was another one as well made as the one I love.

Last edited by trailhorserider; 04-21-2012 at 11:27 PM.
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post #24 of 26 Old 04-21-2012, 11:34 PM
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I should also mention what I really love about both both of my "good" saddles are the Steele brand trees. That's what the favorite GW Crate and the Saddle King Ol' Timer have in common. Those trees fit my horses great and fit MY body great!

Through the whole saddle fiasco I did learn that Steele makes a comfortable tree for me and my horses. That is something I will keep an eye out for in future saddle purchases.
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post #25 of 26 Old 04-22-2012, 07:50 AM
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I think its like the OP said, notice all the good posts are people with older Riders Choice? Sounds like with the death of the comapny patriarch the company has gone down the tubes.
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post #26 of 26 Old 09-12-2012, 03:20 PM
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Riders Choice Saddle Company

Hello, I am Jerry and I am the Manager of Riders Choice saddle company. First, let me say that I am here to always address any issues we have with our products. Second, let me dismiss a few errors. 1) We are and have always been an American saddle company in Bryant Alabama that employees local folks. 2) The owner never died as he is typing now.
I would like to address questions about quality, saddle selection, and saddle pricing.
Let me say, as many have pointed out, that is is very difficult for a buyer to place their trust in an online seller. I know this as I buy many things online as well. We are here every day talking on the phone with folks and working with them to make sure we are the right company to build your saddle.
We always strive to maintain super low prices on our saddles while keeping the quality as high as possible.
I believe if we can speak to you personally and get a feel for the quality you expect from your saddle we can guide you in your selection. We do carry our Riders Choice brand, which is mass produced here with locally bought leather and trees. Granted this is a good quality solid saddle that will be for the rider that isn't so picky as to notice small blemishes in the leather. This type of saddle is a dying breed in that American companies cannot compete with the labor price of the Mexican and Indian saddles, and it is my belief that soon if you want to buy an American made saddle you will only be able to buy a custom saddle for thousands. One of the problems is that the auto and clothing industry along with the growth of China is using up all the clean sides of leather and forcing the price of each hide up 3 to 4 times what it sold for just 5 years ago. Yet, those who still want a saddle priced under 500.00 want one that is on par with those made 5 + years ago. The EPA has just about closed every tannery in America so builders are forced to buy leather from Mexico or South America, where the Mexican saddle companies use the best they have to build their own saddles and send the scrubs to the leather retailers in America. Just last week I picked through 250 sides of leather to find 20 that were usable.
Now, I am not saying this to say avoid cheaper saddles. On the contrary, I am just trying to educate the buying public on making a good buying decision on an expensive product. We try to help people decide which product they should go with. I always say, If you have the money, go with the G.W. Crate custom saddle as it is a higher quality product for a third of what other Custom saddles will cost.
I am sure we that we worked with the OP to remedy the situation. As I personally try to treat everyone like I would like to be treated. I know that we aren't going to please everyone. We have sold over 10,000 saddles on Ebay alone and have a 100% feedback that will show you that we do work with each customer. I feel safe in saying that we are most likely the only saddle company in America where you can completely help design your one of a kind saddle, have it built in less than two months, and most of the time come out cheaper than 1200.00.
I have seen saddles priced from 100.00 to 60,000. If you pay 300-400 for a saddle you should expect a quality saddle that will hold up to riding for 5-10 years if you keep it cleaned and oiled. If you want something that has better quality leather that will dye and oil evenly, that the fit and finish is cleaner, then you need to spend a bit more money. You don't have to spend 4000.00 to get a lifetime quality saddle because we build them everyday for 700-1500.00.
Leather is a living product. Sometimes it will be thick and sometimes it will be thinner. Sometimes it will cut like butter and sometimes you can barely pull a knife through it. Sometimes it will be clean as a babies skin, until you finish the saddle and start to oil it and little marks or spots start appearing. So it is impossible to recreate the same saddle time and time again because you are working with materials that change. However, quality is something we strive to uphold in each and every saddle that leaves the building.
I invite anyone looking for a western saddle to call me personally or come by the shop M-F and watch a custom saddle being built the old fashion way, not like a cookie cutter like other store or catalog brands. 1-256-597-2424
Thank you for giving me this time and forum and thank you to those who posted who have tried our products. Yours Truly, Jerry Payne
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